The Survivor (Dedicated to P.D.)

That was the first time I saw him.

There he was, standing on the hill

He just stood there, looking over the valley

He never moved much, not much at all

Leaning against that tree

He must have been quite handsome once

Though now it was hard to tell

Underneath the dark hair and wisps of grey,

Brown eyes shone through dried blood

He was there again, the day after that

Standing on that hill, leaning against that tree

I watched him all day, just watching

I think, I hope, he never saw me

His leather was worn and in some places burnt

He looked like he'd been through Hell,

And at the very least, Hell had not been kind

The world was a living nightmare as far as he was concerned

I had never seen so much pain etched into one person's face,

Or so much regret

I watched him again from the top of my tree

He was as silent and still as ever before

The day after that, he was waiting for me

I dropped from my perch, standing gingerly by his side

He stood with the air of one who had lost, or was lost

Lost his pride, lost his dignity and maybe, just maybe, his mind.

I wanted to ask why he stood on the hill

My words never formed but somehow he knew

As the ghost of a smile faded from his face, he looked over the valley one more

I followed his gaze through the wild, rocky glen and at last I understood

Then he unstrapped his gun and pushed it into my hands

It was as battered and worn as its owner

He spoke with conviction, unbridled by fear

"I hope you have no use for it. Not as I did."

With a final glance across the valley

At the numerous graves of his friends

He sadly shook his head, then limped slowly away

"Not as I did."

The first time I saw him,

Yet the very last

'Never again!' I cried

Only the wind heard my plea

I kept his gun, in a velvet box underneath my bed

In memory of the survivor who gave all he had

And I have had no use for it. Not as he did

No, not as he did. Never again